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Sydney’s Festival season: Charged with possession of a prohibited drug?

The upcoming long weekend marks the start of the music festival season. Listen Out and Yours and Owls kick things off this weekend. However, what also comes with these...

Janelle Tarabay

The upcoming long weekend marks the start of the music festival season. Listen Out and Yours and Owls kick things off this weekend.

However, what also comes with these festivals is increased police patrolling, sniffer dogs, searches and people being charged with possession of prohibited drugs.

Although Canberra has agreed to have free pill testing at festival, in NSW it is an offence to be in possession of a prohibited drug. The offence is a serious charge with a maximum penalty of 2 years imprisonment and if convicted it is likely that the charge will impact your ability to travel, obtain visa’s in Australia and obtain some employment.

Due to the prevalence of these charges, the Courts are getting frustrated, especially with people simply asking for and expecting to get a non-conviction. It is important that if you are charged with possession of a prohibited drug you take it seriously and speak to a lawyer.

Before advising you, we will look at key elements of the offence in determining whether you are guilty of the offence, namely:

  1. Whether the search was lawful: Generally, if a police officer suspects on reasonable grounds that you have in your possession a prohibited plant or drugs, they may stop and search you. They do not require a warrant if you are in a public place.
  2. Whether you were “in possession” of the drug: To have committed the offence of Possess Prohibited Drug, the prosecution need to establish that you had the prohibited drug in your custody or control. This is made out if drugs are found in your pockets, are hidden in your mouth etc. Even if you only had custody of the drug for a moment, you are still deemed to be in possession. Further, two or more people can be in possession of the same drug, if the police have evidence to support it.
  3. Whether you knew you were in possession of the prohibited drug: For this element to be made out the police need to prove that you knew that you were in possession of a prohibited drugs. This comes usually through admissions but can also be inferred from the circumstances in which the drugs were found.

In most cases, these elements are made out and people that come before the court plead guilty to the charge.

The important thing then is to prepare for a sentence to give you the best chance of obtaining a non-conviction. Preparation will include:

  1. Checking the police facts and making sure that you agree with them. If you don’t, we may ask that the facts are amended.
  2. If you don’t have any criminal convictions, getting evidence to support your prior good character, or even if you do, getting evidence to support your otherwise good character. This comes in the form of character references from family, friends and work colleagues.
  3. Obtain evidence to support the fact that you are unlikely to commit the same offence again. This is evidence of rehabilitation and will include you taking some personal steps to show the court that you won’t re-offend.
  4. Obtain evidence of your remorse. This usually comes by way of a personal letter of apology that you will write to the court.

We then use this evidence to back up the oral submissions we make to the court detailing why you are someone who deserves a second chance. Our lawyers have an excellent success rate in achieving outstanding results for our clients charged with the possession of prohibited drugs. This is due to careful advice, preparation of evidence for sentence and practiced oral submissions.

If you have found yourself charged with possession of a prohibited drug, or the similar offence of supplying a prohibited drug and wish to speak to a lawyer please contact us on 9025 9888 or at info@streetonlawyers.com.au